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Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Alaskan Malamute

Height: 23 – 26 inches
Weight: 65 – 85 pounds
Lifespan: 10 – 14 years
Colors: Black, brown, red, sable, gray, blue, silver, white
Suitable for: Families with children, homes with fenced yards, active people
Temperament: Intelligent, active, work-minded, affectionate, adventurous

The Alaskan Malamute is the oldest and largest arctic sledding dog in existence. Bred for strength and endurance, they also love spending time with family members. Malamutes are named after Malimiut Inupiaq people of Alaska’s Norton Sound region. These dogs were renowned for hunting big game, but in time, they started working as sled pullers.

Nowadays, the Alaskan Malamute is a beloved family pet within households throughout the world. This purebred dog has a striking physique and a thick, double coat that keeps them warm even in the coldest of snowstorms. Yet, they can manage in temperate weather if they’re properly groomed. These dogs love kids and other animals and always look forward to an adventurous day.

Alaskan Malamutes are active dogs that need a great deal of exercise each day. They do best in homes with fenced yards, but they can get along well in an apartment setting if they spend most of their time outside of the house with their human family members. Are you interested in adopting an Alaskan Malamute? Here is everything you need to know beforehand.

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Alaskan Malamute Puppies

alaskan malamute puppy_Phase4Studios_shutterstock
Image Credit: Phase4Studios, Shutterstock

Alaskan Malamutes are immensely popular pets that are known for hard work and extreme loyalty. The more expensive dogs typically come from a lineage of hard-working dogs that have won championships and gained recognition through kennel clubs like the AKC. But just because a puppy looks like an Alaskan Malamute, that doesn’t mean they are.

There could be other breeds hiding in their lineage, so it’s important to check the parents out and request a breed history report for the bloodline of the pup that you’re considering adopting. If you don’t plan on working your new Alaskan Malamute on a farm or on a sledding trail, you don’t need to worry as much about their pedigree, and instead, you can focus solely on picking out a healthy pup that gets along well in a family environment.

Although Alaskan Malamutes are adventurous dogs that look like wolves, they aren’t wild animals. They love to spend time indoors with their family members just as much as they enjoy spending time adventuring outside.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Alaskan Malamute

1. They Love to Howl

Alaskan Malamutes don’t do much barking. But they do howl occasionally, if only to make use of their vocal cords. But they don’t spend hours howling and won’t keep you up all night — or bother your neighbors — with excessive howling.

2. They Used to Babysit

Believe it or not, Alaskan Malamutes were used as makeshift babysitters when living with Mahlemut tribe members. They’d sleep around babies at night to help keep them warm, and they would keep watch during the day when parents were busy hunting or working around camp. Of course, they shouldn’t be used as babysitters today, as we have many alternative options that are more reliable.

3. They Helped Create Alaskan Society

These dogs helped make it possible for settlements to be established in Alaska as they transported supplies and even carried mail for settlers. This made it possible for settlements to connect with one another and thrive throughout the winter.

Alaskan Malamute Face
Image Credit: ertuzio, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Alaskan Malamute 🧠

The Alaskan Malamute is a confident dog that was originally bred to work. Even today, this breed is active and seems to always be looking for a job to do. Alaskan Malamutes make perfect pets for families that are active and adventurous. These dogs need to be walked daily, and they’re always up for a hike or camping trip. They typically enjoy going on road trips too. This purebred dog is intelligent and should start obedience training early to ensure proper behavior while indoors and around kids.

In addition to daily walks, these dogs need something to do when spending time inside, especially when they’re by themselves. Games of hide-and-seek and training sessions will keep your pooch entertained and stimulated when you’re spending time with them. Indestructible toys will keep them company when nobody is home.

Though Alaskan Malamutes are loyal, they can be quite stubborn when it comes to doing things that they don’t feel like doing. They need a firm (yet loving) hand to keep them in check when their stubborn side shows up. They don’t respond well to punishment, so they should always be managed with positive reinforcement.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Alaskan Malamutes fit in well with families that include children. Even young children are safe around these dogs, as they tend to take on a nurturing personality when kids are around. They should be trained not to jump or pounce when around kids, though, to minimize the risk of accidental injuries. Kids can easily learn to train and walk this purebred dog at a young age, so the whole family can participate in caring for the dog over time.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

These dogs enjoy spending time with other dogs, especially in a fun outdoor setting where they can run, play, and roughhouse. They should start socializing with other dogs as soon as they’re brought home for the first time to avoid the risk of aggression development. Alaskan Malamutes don’t always get along with smaller animals like cats, though, due to their hunting tendencies. However, they can be trained to treat cats with respect as long as training and introductions start early.

Alaskan Malamute dog lying on concrete
Image Credit: ertuzio, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning an Alaskan Malamute

Now you know what the Alaskan Malamute’s personality is like and how well they get along with kids and other dogs. Here are a few more important things that you should know before bringing an Alaskan Malamute puppy home for the first time.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

These dogs are active throughout the day, and as such, they typically need about 3 cups of high-quality dry dog food every day to meet their nutritional needs. They love food that includes buffalo and bison because their ancestors traditionally ate these meat proteins.

Alaskan Malamutes love wet food, but they eat a large amount, so commercial options can get expensive. Therefore, it’s best to offer canned wet food as a supplement to any dry food they eat. On cold days, this purebred dog enjoys a nice bowl of bone broth for comfort and rejuvenation.

Exercise 🐕

Alaskan Malamutes won’t sit around waiting for something to do. They’re active, and if they don’t get at least an hour of exercise every day, they will find some way to entertain themselves, even if it means destroying your belongings at home. Be prepared to take long walks every day with your pooch, preferably in the morning so they don’t end up with too much energy in the afternoon. In addition to long walks, your dog will need to spend time running and playing outside.

But they should spend their outdoor time on a leash or within a fenced area to keep them from running off. They’ll happily spend hours at the dog park if you let them, and they are always up for a game of fetch in the yard. Due to their intelligence, their brains need to be stimulated just as much as their bodies do. Therefore, games and training should be a focus while spending time indoors.

Alaskan Malamute standing on lawn
Image Credit: Mohan Nannapaneni, Pixabay

Training 🦮

Alaskan Malamutes yearn to learn new things, so training should be a priority throughout their lives. In addition to basic obedience training, owners should consider agility and sled pulling as extracurricular activities. Training should start early and be consistent over time. Obedience training is necessary — without it, these dogs can become unruly because they don’t know what’s expected of them. But agility and sled pulling can be practiced at home, in the backyard or driveway.

Grooming ✂️

The Alaskan Malamute’s coat is thick and long, so it needs to be brushed daily to keep tangles away. These dogs are regular shedders, with deep shedding that occurs twice a year. So, you’ll need a good vacuum to keep your home’s floor from always looking furry. Their ears should be cleaned once a week or so to reduce the chance of infection. They might need bathing occasionally if they spend time outdoors where it’s wet or muddy. They should get enough outdoor exercise to avoid the need for nail clipping.

Health Conditions ❤️

There are only a few minor health conditions to be concerned about as the proud parent of an Alaskan Malamute. Knowing about them now will help you prepare for them if they develop in the future.

Minor Conditions
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Skin problems
Serious Conditions
  • Chondrodysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia

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Male vs Female

Male Alaskan Malamutes are usually larger than their female counterparts. Males seem to have a little more stamina than females during activity, but girls tend to be a little more independent than the guys. But overall, both male and female Alaskan Malamutes are loving, loyal, and intelligent. They both make awesome family pets if they have enough room to stretch out, run, and play.

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Final Thoughts:

The Alaskan Malamute is more than just a sled dog. These family pets are loyal and patient, and they do well in exciting environments where children are present. These dogs need a great deal of attention and exercise, but every minute that is spent with them will be rewarded with love and kindness.

This purebred dog isn’t for everyone. But active people and families looking for a fun and affectionate dog should look no further than the Alaskan Malamute. What excites you most about parenting one of these beautiful pooches? What worries you the most? Let us know in our comments section below!

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Featured Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock

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